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MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

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Diversity for dollars - change at Chrysler

Nir Kossovsky - Friday, November 06, 2009
Earlier today, the Society’s Mission:Intangible® Monthly Briefing by Dr. Judy Giordan of Steel City Re spoke to the demonstrated link between managerial and directorial diversity and corporate enterprise value. Thanks to her data-rich presentation, we better appreciate that diversity under critical conditions can create value through the wisdom of crowds. Apparently, so does Chrysler.

Earlier this week, Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne laid out plans to revive the struggling Auburn Hills automaker. His plans -- replenishing its lineup with high-quality and attractive models to more than double sales within five years and start generating profit in 2011 – were derided as generic by many analysts.

But not dismissed. This is why. Marchionne and his management team, a mix of executives brought over from Italy and promising managers at Chrysler whom he promoted, have been working in secret on the plan since Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June. This team of diverse individuals is differentiating itself from generic auto strategy teams in other ways. David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, notes "the youth of the team kind of brings energy and enthusiasm to the process."

Score one for subtly signaling the intangible asset value of diversity.

There’s more. Chrysler is working hard to improve quality. "We're not in denial in relation to the public perception of quality at Chrysler," said quality chief Doug Betts, who worked previously at Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. Chrysler now has 1,500 people addressing its poor quality, focusing on manufacturing.

There are skeptics. "Their quality reputation is dismal right now, and you don't change that in a couple of years," said Jack Nerad of Kelley Blue Book.

Well, maybe not usually. But reputation can be restored quickly if stakeholders find compelling reasons to expect change. After all, reputation is an expectation of future behavior.  This is why. Reputation grows out of the totality of information stakeholders receive about a company — information that creates the cumulative impression of how the company manages all its business processes. These are the business processes that create an ethical work environment, drive innovation, assure quality, uphold safety, promote sustainability, and provide security. Along with their embodiment in brands, trademarks, and patents, these processes are the intangible assets which have become the primary determinants of corporate success or failure today.

Industry experts were impressed by Chrysler’s forthright emphasis on the quality issue, just as they were impressed by the composition of the management team. The Company is signaling unambiguously a commitment to new and improved processes – commitments that are evidently reshaping reputation at this very moment.

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